Winter’s mountain lodging momentum set to continue
DENVER — Despite broad swings in temperatures and snowfall throughout the Rocky Mountain and Far West mountain resorts for the past two months, a strong and steady economy combined with snow equity allowed the 2014-15 ski and snowboard season to post double-digit increases in revenue for the third straight winter, with summer tracking similarly.
As of March 31, data collected and reported by Denver-based DestiMetrics for 19 mountain destinations in six Western states, actual occupancy for the winter season is up 5.9 percent and revenues are up 11.7 percent compared to last year.
“Early season bookings driven by snow equity from last season and reinforced by consistent early snowfall and strong economic growth was sufficient to carry the season, despite a drop in momentum as the season waned,” said Ralf Garrison, director of DestiMetrics. “Even though the booking pace slowed in the past six weeks, we’re still seeing that both winter and summer destination resort business is up more than 10 percent and showing remarkable consistency over the last several years since the post-recession economic recovery began.”
Resorts in both the Far West (California, Nevada and Oregon) and Rocky Mountain (Colorado, Utah and Wyoming) regions posted stronger results than last year. Rocky Mountain resorts enjoyed strong growth over last year’s results through March with a 5.8 percent gain in occupancy and a 12.3 percent increase in revenues. Occupancy in the Far West was up 6.1 percent for the winter months driven by lower rates but still generating aggregated revenues up 5.3 percent.
“The destination mountain resort business has been growing steadily for the past few years in close correlation with the improving economy,” Garrison said. “But it is important to note that the DestiMetrics data does not include lift ticket activity, which is much more snowfall dependent than lodging and can be quite variable as a result,” he clarified.
Summer Season looks strong
Summer season business is also looking strong for mountain resorts. Data collected through March 31 showed that on-the-books occupancy is up 7.2 percent for the coming summer compared to the same time last year. The increased bookings are currently delivering an 11.1 percent increase in revenue for May through October.
According to the report, economic indicators continued to play a vital role in the improved year-over-year results.
“The travel industry is continuing to lead in job creation nationally as it hires more employees to support the record-setting business most travel sectors are experiencing,” said Tom Foley, operations director for DestiMetrics. “During March, consumers cited higher confidence in short-term job security and earnings and along with lower fuel prices, summer road-trippers are now starting to book their vacations. We are optimistic that the early booking momentum we’re already seeing will continue for the next several months.”
Garrison added that “the economy is the common denominator for the ongoing growth in mountain travel the past several years, fueling growth in both winter and summer. Consumers like to take mountain vacations and a strong economy is providing the discretionary funding to do just that.”
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Vail’s updated plans regarding the state guidelines and isolation housing requirements is one of several pieces of information guests are waiting on heading into the 2020-21 season.